There are several ways to end a marriage. There is divorce, simplified dissolution, and annulment. There is no process for legal separation in Florida. Remember, the forms required for each way of ending a marriage will be different.
Contested divorce is when the parties cannot agree on some or all of the issues surrounding a divorce, such as child support, alimony, custody, allocation of debts, and division of property. Litigation is the court process for both spouses engaging in a contested divorce. Even if one of the spouses prefers mediation or some other more peaceful means of divorce resolution, it takes only one spouse to engage in litigation by filing a complaint for divorce, which forces the other spouse to engage in defensive posture.
In Florida, there is a process called “simplified dissolution” that is usually a faster and easier method of ending a marriage. Generally, there is less paperwork, fewer court appearances, and less time spent negotiating.
Nonetheless, you must meet certain standards in order to be eligible for a simplified dissolution. The eligibility requirements in Florida are as follows:
The parties do not have any minor or dependent children together and the wife is not now pregnant;
- The parties have made a satisfactory division of their property and have agreed as to payment of their joint obligations;
- Neither party is seeking alimony;
- Both parties are willing to give up their right to trial and appeal;
- Both parties are willing to go into the clerk’s office to sign the petition; and
- Both parties are willing to go to the final hearing at the same time.
Florida does not recognize legal separation. Nevertheless, some states do recognize legal separations. A legal separation is different from a divorce because it does not handle all the same issues that a divorce handles. For example, a legal separation may not deal with the division of property, only the issues surrounding children of the divorce. After a legal separation, you may not remarry because you are still legally married.
Florida recognizes annulments. An annulment declares that you were never legally married. In other words, the marriage becomes void, and it’s as if the parties were never married because of something that existed at the time the parties entered into the marriage. The reason for getting an annulment over a divorce is usually a personal or religious motivation.
In Florida, annulments are not specifically written out in one annulment statute. Some of the grounds for annulment come from various statutes and others come from decisions of Florida cases.
Florida law permits an annulment for any of the following reasons:
- The parties to the marriage are related by lineal consanguinity; incestuous relationships (Florida statute 741.21);
- The parties to the marriage were already married; bigamy (Florida statute 826.01);
- Parties that entered into common law marriages after January 1, 1968 are void (Florida statute 741.211);
- Lack of consent due to mental incapacity or influence of alcohol/drugs;
- One spouse was underage at the time of the marriage and there was no parental consent;
- One spouse used fraudulent acts to obtain consent of the other spouse.